Roads Untraveled - Part XIII

Story by OttersGonnaOtt on SoFurry

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#64 of Entropy Series

The gang discusses serious business and sends off a friend, then Ilaria discovers a surprising new friend.

This chapter ended up taking much longer than I anticipated, yet also wrote out longer than expected as well. In terms of planning, much less actually happened story-wise in this chapter than planned. However, I always say that organic development comes first and this is a shining example of that. In some ways it also sets up the next chapter's start in good ways too, so I'm happy with the results. Times like these are what make writing fun. :3

On a more somber note, today is the anniversary of my late mate asking me a very special question. I wrote this chapter with you in mind, love. That collar is still where you left it, Adrian. Rest peacefully.

As always, this story contains adult content and explicit sexual imagery. If you aren't allowed or don't wish to view such material, please stop reading immediately. To all the rest, enjoy! Comments and critiques are welcome and encouraged.

"Hold up a minute, Carbon." Sydney pulled her new girlfriend to the side, allowing others to crowd into the bridge. "Can we talk? I've got something I'd like to get off my chest."

"And something ~I'd~ like to get off your chest as well." Carbon chuckled, but relented in favor of Cid's request. "What's up? We'll be late for the crew meeting."

"Ignore that for a bit. Come here." Cid opened her arms invitingly and gave Carbon a hug, then quickly turned face and dished out the noogies. "Why did I have to hear about an amazing run from one of those girls instead of you?"

"Goddess, Mik swore not to..."

Evelyn appeared chuckling a reminder. "But ~Chelle~ never did..."

"Right, never trust those two fully." Carbon sighed and took her licks for the misinformation. "I'm sorry, Cid. It was Ari's idea, and a pretty good one apparently."

"So here I was, cramped in a seat and dying to help, while you guys have a blast?"

Carbon finally broke free of the hold around her neck and re-settled her mask. "I know you like to run and climb all over, but that was a dangerous mission! Besides, recreational parkour wasn't on my list of things to do in enemy territory!"

"Missing a good run sucks, but that's not why I'm so upset!" Sydney once again opened her arms, but had to force the more sincere embrace this time. "I was worried sick. Don't you ever take on all the enemies like that again."

"I... I won't..." Carbon leaned into the hug and nuzzled Cid through her mask. "I'm sorry, Cid. Our options were limited and I couldn't bring backup without risking a plague on the ship. I'll do my best not to let that happen again though."

"Fuck that. Take me with you next time." Sydney gave the hybrid's visor a smooch. "We can die together if it's meant to happen. Live together, die together."

Eve grumbled her throat and spoke up on the matter. "No. I won't let her." She paced to and fro, bothered by something. "She's carrying my kids, Carbon. Our kids."

"Eve makes a good point. It's not just you in that body now."

"You mean the girls? They don't seem to mind." Sydney pulled Carbon in tightly before separating. "Besides, we're unstoppable together. They'll be alright."

"This might be the first time I've ever wanted to smack her." Eve sighed, but conceded that she didn't have any control over Cid's own body. "At least try telling her to be careful."

"When has Cid ever ~not~ been?" Carbon too tried to reset her mood with a deep breath. "So how are they doing? Any new developments?"

"Names, actually. I told them I didn't want to come up with names on my own, but they yanked them out of my brain somehow..." Cid grabbed Carbon's paw and placed it on her nose. «Still weird. Anyway, the shy one's Cait and the other is Lea. Oh, uh... Leannan.»

«You mean... So Cait is...?»

«The one with the pink fur, Carbon...»

«Sorry! You've gotten to know them more than me.» Carbon smiled to Evelyn and she in turn walked over to embrace the children. «They're cute. Don't worry about all of this. You'll do well as a mother.»

«Sure, if it's anything like commanding a squad of grunts...»

Carbon looked oddly towards Sydney, then tilted her head towards the bridge. «You mean to tell me it's not? You haven't been through Fleur's first puberty spurts. There were ~rules of engagement~.»

«Oh lords.» Cid waved over to Evelyn to get her attention, the veile needing far less to know she was wanted. «Hey Eve, I'm about to let go. That okay?»

«I appreciate the warning. We'll talk soon, my saplings.» The flower girl quickly hugged her children in parting, then nodded to Sydney. «Thanks Sydney. Go right ahead.»

«Sorry.» Cid broke free of the Link and nudged her snout towards the congregation in the other room. "You don't want to miss the meeting, right?"

"I could always catch up later, but why make Ari repeat herself?" Carbon opened a bulkhead door that had idly closed for safety reasons. "Let's go."

"...So we can just screw whoever?"

"We what?" Sydney stared at the gazelle that brought up the question, then shot a querying glance to Ilaria. "What the hell kind of meeting are you holding here?"

"Oh, you missed that? Sorry, I'll explain again." Ari cleared her throat and bought herself a bit of time to simplify her main point of the meeting. "I'm instituting a new rule, named Gentleman's Boner by our favorite Trick. You get a boner and the person that caused it has to ~solve~ it--and sex is not the only way if you're creative. There's no IOUs and there's a few more things we need to discuss first, but that's basically it."

"Uh... That's an interesting policy." Cid straightened her tie and tried to compose herself better. "So when exactly did you last take hard drugs? I mean, this sounds insane and quite a waste of effort--"

"It's for the good of the ship." Ari held up a paw to silence the protest, but loosened up as she explained herself. "What happens on a normal ship? People get horny and distracted. You then have a massive sexual disease outbreak on your hands whenever you hit a port with a brothel."

"Yeah, but that's par for the course."

"Not here it isn't. In my tribe back home, we share everything and we're open about all matters." Ari smiled for her baffled and surprised brother, then elaborated. "If someone needs some sexual relief, the tribe provides it in a safe, open manner. Then there's no coveting people sexually or using sex as a bargaining chip, leading to an overall better disposition and less passion-driven crime." She slewed her gaze back to the meerkat questioning her motives. "Taking the valuation away from sex makes it no longer a priority, and thusly a much lighter issue to contend against."

"I... can sort of see your point." Cid sighed and tried to pick her words carefully. "But this isn't an open system. You said there's rules."

"It's a working test--a hybrid theory if you will." Ari pointed to Alex and Buck. "Let's say Trick and Buck were working on the bridge as normal, but Trick was wearing a short skirt and nothing beneath. Buck, wouldn't you find it hard to concentrate on your work without trying to peek under that skirt?"

"Ah... Yes ma'am, I believe that's about the sum of it."

"Well if Buck could just get it out his system quickly, he'd be able to better focus on his work for the rest of the day. A twenty minute sex break saves hours of stress, meaning more productivity and better quality of life for Buck to boot." Ari returned to Cid and stared her down for a moment until she was sure the meerkat understood her point. "You take the perceived worth and importance of sex away and knock it to the bottom of your priorities. Now everyone gets to be more focused, plus they lead happier lives. And let's also not forget about the sex just being the fucking cherry on top."

"I'm impressed, Lulu." Iolvin saddled up beside his twin and gave her a light hug. "I didn't think you cared that much for our tribal side."

"Of course I do! I just... had larger issues on my mind when we were growing up."

"I'll concede that I haven't ever given sexual tension much thought, except maybe this one time in a van..." Sydney grumbled and feigned clearing her throat as she and Lilly met eyes, then raised her voice for the rest of the crew. "But there have to be limitations or this'll just turn into chaos."

"Oh, there definitely are some ground rules." Ari faced the rest of the crew as well and held up her paw, throwing up fingers as she hit points. "Firstly, this whole thing is first come, first serve. No ganging up on anyone unless they agree to it. Second, both parties have to be ~satisfied~ when all's said and done. Third, the Boner's desires are law until until blood or permanent harm come into the mix. Fourth, Boners are only valid in the same place and time as the creation of said Boner. They're also void if you'd just have sex anyway. Couples can't use the rule to have recreational sex while on duty, and you can't use Boners later on as that counts as bartering." Ari looked at the four raised fingers on her good paw and barely remembered her fifth point. "Lastly that I can think of, there's exceptions for minors and couples. You need permission from the significant other or guardian in those cases, just to be safe. Questions?"

A male raccoon oddly dredged up a very common query. "Isn't that unfair? What about women?"

"Good point. This has already come up twice, and it's silly I forgot." Ari held up her other paw, hoping there would only be a few more conditions at most since her false paw only had three digits. "Sex and gender are irrelevant. If you're turned on, you've got a Boner. Handle it like a Gentle...fur." Ari paused for a moment as she eyed a few of her crew and family. "Sexual preference is also irrelevant. However, that adds the next point. No claiming a Boner if you know full-well you can't please your partner. I'm not condoning cruel rape scenarios here, nor am I forcing anyone to widen their sexual preferences. If you aren't sure, no sex."

"Oh. Well I guess that's quite fair then, ma'am. Thanks."

Ari nodded for the raccoon. "No, thank you for being considerate and speaking up for your peers... Mr. Bleu, correct?"

"Aye, ma'am, but I'm also called 'R&B' around here too." The raccoon seemed displeased by the nickname, leading Ari to not question any further. "We're... more loose of a crew, right?"

"I'll call you whatever you'd like, Mr. Bleu. Same goes for everyone else." Ari pointed again to Trick, who was sporting jeans and layered camisoles at the moment. "I think my new rule sort of clarifies this, but we're less traditional on the Starbreeze. Dress how you'd like and relax a little. Just be professional where it counts. Alright?"

"Aye aye!"

"Good stuff, guys. Now... Hmm, actually..." Ari faced her children and signed out a quick question. <Pups, are we able to send off Robyn?>

<Yep!> The girls lashed tendrils to the captain's console and nodded to their mother. <She's resting inside the probe cannon. We can do everything remotely if you'd like.>

<Thank you, girls. Can you see everything I'm been saying?> A quick set of confirmatory nods was all Ari needed. "One last thing before we go off to our duties: I'd like us to have a moment of silence for those we lost these last days, both from our crew and on the Earth below." Everyone hushed for a few seconds, many drooping their heads in honor of the deceased, before Ari nodded to her not-soSilent children. "We send off the souls of these heroes so they may eternally watch over their friends and loved ones. May these brave guardians forever hold the line."

Carbon flagged down the kids and reminded, <Slowly, now. Remember our orbital velocity.>

<We're only giving it one percent power, Carbon. Don't worry...> The girls closed their eyes for a moment as they programmed the cannon, then looked out the fore windows. <Firing in three... two... one... mark.>

The whole crew peered out into the void, but their reverence was quickly shattered by a loud, thudding shockwave throughout the hull. In the blink of an eye the metal coffin shot out of sight, easily lost around the far side of the Earth. "Girls!"

<We only gave it one percent!>

Carbon shook her head and walked to the nearest console. "Eve, would you...?"

"Gladly." The flower peered out the windows, overlaying trajectories and equations for her host. "Oh, good. She's still in orbit, just a much higher, elliptical one now."

"Eve says she's still captured in orbit, Ari." Carbon walked over and gave the otter a rub on the back. "At least she gets a hell of a ride this way. A nice view too."

"Thanks, Carbon." Ari pulled her children closer and rubbed between their ears. "It's alright, my whelps. Just... use raw voltage and math next time. I don't think they got the precision right in the launch application."

"Pardon me, Ma'am?"

Ari looked over to Buck, breaking up her familial embrace to go back on duty. "Yeah, Buck?"

"What are our orders? Are we going back home?"

"As soon as possible. Everyone should probably lock down the ship. Prepare for a gravity outage as soon as possible." Ari again returned to her children. <When can we dive back to our universe?>

<We can-->

Suddenly the main holographic projector spooled up and presented an image of Prisma, one that resembled her older, gelatinous body. "I'll only require two minutes to make the necessary preparations, ma'am."

Ilaria's face lit up wit joy at the sight of the android. "Prisma! You're back!"

"Woah." Trick shuffled over and waved a hand through the hologram. "I didn't know we had a VI on this thing..."

"We had a virtual intelligence installed, but running only in low-level mode. I've never seen its avatar, actually." Ari joined the frog and pulled her hand back, unnecessarily protecting the unfeeling image. "This here is the larger half of the world's first truly aware AI. Her name's Prisma."

"What? That's not right." Evelyn grumbled and wrung her hands. "That's ~me~ she's talking about."

"Shush. Ahem..." Carbon rolled his eyes towards Evelyn and then corrected the captain. "Actually, that would be the slightly-annoyed girl in my head technically. Prisma and Sprite are the first synthetic AI though."

"Sorry, Eve. Oh and to the rest of you confused furs, there's two people in that brain of hers FYI. Enough of that though. You're all dismissed." Ari turned back to Prisma and smiled for the android's image. "So Prisma, are you alright? Do you understand what's happened?"

"I went offline and then rebooted in a larger shell--a foreign shell." Prisma looked towards the fore of the Starbreeze and sparked an epiphany. "Of course. I'm inside the ship, aren't I?"

"That's right. I thought you knew, the way you read about the ship's status."

Prisma shook her head, a pained expression of confusion wringing her face. "I... I have more senses now, but they all feel natural so I don't know which are new and which are old."

"That's alright. Don't push yourself." Ari nodded and moved back towards her seat. "We want you back to your old self, hon. We missed you."

"I'm sorry," the former android proposed as she quirked her head sideways, "but have we met before?"

Ari squinted her eyes for a moment, then gained a slightly saddened expression. "Oh, no... You don't remember any of us?"

"I don't know many of these people personally, though I do have files on all of them. You're my captain, Ielunschra Mikhaila Rihzyet." Prisma scanned the room, eventually settling her gaze upon Iolvin and Adrian. "That's odd. I ~do~ remember your brother and his... Oh, they're related somehow..."

Yoyo spoke up, making sure to show off Dee's ring. "We're engaged to be mates, Pris."

"Oh. I don't know why I couldn't remember that."

"Damnit. Girls, that's your next priority. See if you can help her fix some of her memories, somehow." Ari checked her console's various holograms and found her quick status markers were starting to light up green. "For now, we need to prep for our dive. Carbon, any plans when we get back?"

"A long sleep. I've been fighting to stay awake after putting out that liquid fire in my petals."

"Papa, eet'z time for zyoor zleep?"

Carbon took a slow breath of air and then walked over to her daughter. "Yeah, Fleur. I'm about to pass out, so I'll just excuse myself back to our bunks. Will you be alright with Cid for a few days?"

"Oui, papa."

"Carbon, get some rest. I'll get us home." Ari checked her console again, over half the lights flushing green rapidly. "We'll orbit a little until we're sure we didn't take any damage, so we can meet up again before we land."

"We're not docking on an upper tier?"

"Nah... I think I need to head home for a bit. I need something familiar around me after that last run." The captain sighed as she plopped her rump in her chair and moved her thick tail to her side. "We can work on the details of our next move in Wildebrooke."

Carbon nodded and started moving for the hallway, meeting Sydney halfway. "That sounds just fine. I'm always up for a drink or two with ol' Vovk."

"The Vovk? Like... ~ultimate hard-ass~ Hostra Vovk?" Cid stopped her love and badgered her for answers. "I thought the Dire Wolf was killed in action, taking down a whole squadron by himself. I mean, he just disappeared from the face of the Earth."

"Nope. He just retired from full-time. I think he still trains a few specialist roles though." Carbon squinted her eyes curiously. "Why? You knew him?"

"The guy was legend, the way he wielded a gun. Artistic, even." Cid pulled Carbon close and begged for a favor. "You've got to get me some face time with him. I want to show him how much I've improved."

"Well I'm not sure that's appropriate if Ari here wants to relax at home." Carbon started moving down the hallway once more. "My old pal Volk is ~her father~, after all."

Sydney looked back to the captain, suddenly realizing how a woman with her disabilities had the resolve to lead a crew. "That's... fucking crazy. My respect for her was already damn high..."

"And let me tell you, she earned every ounce of that respect ~without~ her father's help." Carbon idly threw up a paw and waved in general. "I'll see you later, Ari. Try to take it easy with that dive, please."

"You got it. We're... clear to go actually, so be careful getting to your bunk." Ari verified all the stations were cleared for zero-gravity and then rolled her arm towards Prisma, silently requesting her to start spooling up the oxydium drive. "You want me to give you a minute to get situated first?"

"Nope. I've got three good anchors dying for exercise." The hybrid shot one back and unfurled the bud on the tip, gently rubbing Sydney's shoulder with the glowing flower petals. "You're welcome to join me, love."

Cid smiled quickly for Ari, then ducked out the room to catch up with Carbon. "I've been dying to see what her comas are like..."

"They're cute together." Trick grinned as she took control of the Starbreeze. "I see some coordinates. We good to go, ma'am?"

"Not sure. Girls? Prisma?"

The twins tried to answer first, but signing simply wasn't as quick to the draw as Prisma's artificial voice. "I'm... We're calibrated and ready to ramp up the reactor."

"That's all good and well, but you didn't say the magic word." Ari smiled for her pups and decided to spoil them just a bit. "What do you two say? Want to give the command, my whelps?"

<Yes, please!> The hybrid twins lit up with smiles and simultaneously slammed a signal button on Ari's console. <Dive!>

"That's right! Dive!" The Starbreeze roared to life, ripping open a wormhole through time and space. "Hold onto your butts!"


Ilaria shot her eyes open, her paw immediately heading to her racing heart only to land on the metallic device in her chest. "Fuck..." As she calmed herself down she rolled to her side and stared at the vacant spot in her bed, or more accurately where she ideally would have seen a concerned face. "Gods... I miss you, Pillow..."

«Lulu? You okay?» Ari could feel from the Link that her brother too had just woken up, a certain grogginess washing out her adrenaline rush. «Something doesn't feel right. Lulu?»

«I'm... I'll be fine, Yoyo.» Ari's paw reached out and rubbed the place she'd always kept for her late wife. «Just had a bad dream is all.»

«That's a ~hell~ of a bad dream, sis.» A sense of determination came through the signal, reasserting Ari's pride for her brother. «It was about Robyn, wasn't it? I can feel it. I'm coming over.»

«No... No, don't do that. I don't want you to wake Dee or Zoë over this.» Ari sat herself up, then forced her eyes anywhere other than the empty space to her side. «I'll just go bug Alex. She's manning the controls all alone until Carbon's available, so I'm sure she'd like some company too.»

«You sure, sis? I'm getting the feeling you're a bit... distressed.»

«I'll get over it. Hey, the girls with you tonight?»

There was a pause as Yoyo checked his surroundings. «Nah. They've been learning we actually ~like~ to sleep through a whole night.»

«That's nice of them. I might find those two and grab a midnight snack.»

«Whatever you do, find someone. I'd feel better if you talked about that nightmare, Lulu.»

«Thanks for looking out for me, lil' bro. I love you.» Ari slipped off the side of her bed and grabbed her robe. "Anything's better than searching for ghosts."

Ilaria sighed and forced herself to move, making her way out into the hallway. She looked around, taking in the eerie quietness of the Starbreeze at 'night'--or whatever time they'd designated nighttime anyway. The cockpit was the safer bet, Trick surprisingly meshing with the otter in fast friendship. Her girls were stalking the ship most nights however, and a part of her wanted to hunt them down before they fucked with the night crew. Ari shook her head and started towards the fore elevator, but stopped dead in her tracks when she heard a thump through Olivia's door.

Ari immediately typed an override into the door's controls and barged into the ermine's room, only to find her bare-ass naked and crumpled on the floor. "Oh, shit! Are you hurt, Liv!?"

"Gruh..." She started to pick herself up, but easily allowed Ari to aid her when her legs didn't respond. "I was trying to go to the toilet, but my legs gave out on me before I could get into my chair."

Ari looked around and found the obvious chair, a lightweight wheeled variety that had collapsed beside Olivia. "Oh... I didn't realize it was that bad. I'm also not sure if the whole ship's wheelchair accessible now that I think about it. Need some help?"

"Yeah, thanks. You just saved me fifteen minutes of self-embarrassment." Liv pulled on Ari's shoulder and used her as a gantry until she was seated. "I think I can handle things from here. Thank you, Ari."

"Think nothing of it." Ari looked around the room, then sighed at the lack of stability supports. "We should make this room a bit friendlier for you so this doesn't become a regular thing."

"Don't worry about it. I can handle myself."

Ari thought about her brother's support over the years, then groaned when she felt him become giddy over their Link. "Sometimes a little help is exactly what you need, even if you won't admit it. At least let me think of some things and run them by you."

"That can't hurt, I suppose." Liv wheeled herself towards the bathroom, then paused as she fought to get the wheels over the lip of the door. "I've done this a million times already. Don't worry--or laugh."

"Considering you're in nothing but your fur right now, that's a challenge. Don't forget about my new rule, now." Ari shook her head in disbelief as the ermine managed to safely wheelie into the bathroom, then tried to leave her in peace once she was relatively safe. "I'll let you do your thing, hon. If you need anything, I'll have my comms on me."

"Thanks again for the lift, Ari. Have a good--"

Suddenly the emergency lights fired up, drenching the whole ship in red-orange and smothering everything with a dull alarm. "Shit. If that's my kids..."

The otter quickly pulled her phone out of her robe pocket when it started chiming. "Uh, Ari?"

"Alex, what's with the alarms?"

"I just tried to roll the ship so we'd keep the dorsal windows dark and the controls locked up. There's a malfunction somewhere that caused the safeties to kick in."

Ari headed out the room and for the bridge with a worried pep in her step. "Please tell me the issue's internal."

"Uh... I'll know once I look up the error code." Ilaria nearly tripped as she ran for the front of the ship, each second without an answer killing her sanity bit by bit. "Oh, a severity-one physical jam. A one doesn't sound too bad."

Ari finally rounded the door to the bridge and huffed out a clarification. "Severities escalate downward, Alex. Tell me the details."

"Oh, hey. They're..." The frog squinted as she tried to read the error on her tiny pilot's console. "It says something about an obstruction in the main engine rotors."

"Something's in the wings? Crap." Ari pulled up the error on her own holographic display and enlarged the details. "The port rotor is jammed by an obstruction alright. Proximity sensors went off. We'll have to dock or something to clear it."

"About that..." Trick stood and backed away from her controls. "If the pilot's seat is locked, it's always for a serious reason. I'm not cool with overriding that."

"Yeah... I'm reading that now." Ari pointed to a line in the text and it highlighted itself for her. "Apparently we can't balance the thrust, and I can only imagine that means flaming death is involved somehow."

"Well, fuck."

"...think she's in here? I don't see the lights up." A familiar raccoon walked onto the bridge and froze up when he found his captain inside. "Oh. Good morning, ma'am. The, uh... Prisma thing called me to the bridge?"

"Prisma's a living being, and fancies herself a woman. I'd appreciate you respecting that." Ari tapped the central display to lower it and called out to the omnipresent AI. "Prisma, what's your thinking here?"

A light in the hallway flickered off and then Prisma filled out the space set aside for her, taking a moment to orient herself to the room's cameras so she could look directly at Ilaria while talking. "First Lieutenant Bleu is our assigned EVA expert, trained in various vacuum engineering techniques."

"Oh right, we have a space engineer now! Perfect." Ari gave the raccoon a slap on the shoulder and started moving for the port airlock. "I don't know what our EVA gear is like. What do you normally need, Lieutenant?"

"It's specifically First Lieutenant in the Navy, ma'am..."

"Oh, sorry. I'm not entirely used to the various ranks and all that." Ari stopped by the airlock and opened a locker that was recessed into an adjacent wall. "It looks like we might have two suits worth of parts here... R&B, was it?"

"That's somehow become my callsign, yes. I go by Rhyme though if you'd rather that." The raccoon opened another service hatch and pulled out a hidden suit, this one looking much more worn and industrial in build. "I brought my own gear aboard, too. It's sort of my lucky suit."

"Oh, good. I wasn't sure if all of this would fit both of us."


"Oh, I'm going out there to help." Ari opened the first hatch and entered, bringing her various suit parts with her. "Looks like there might be some damage here and there. Can we test it out somehow?"

"Wait... You need years of training to do any of this, ma'am--"

"My name is Ari and I'm coming with you. That's final." The otter started stepping into the bottom half of a suit and grinned when her size didn't actually seem to matter too much. "Now get changed and help me test my suit."

Suddenly Rhyme froze up, requiring a tug from Ari to shake out of the trance and step into the chamber. "Ma'am... Ari..." The raccoon stared at his environmental suit for a few seconds, then caught his eyes drifting to the disrobed otter's backside. "I don't think we should... Uh, could we do this in private? Please?"

"I'm not afraid to strut my stuff, Rhyme. Hell, if you want to call a Boner on me when we get done I'll gladly go for it."

"That's not--"

"Strip and get yourself ready, Mr. Bleu!"

"Fine!" Tears started welling up in Rhyme's eyes as he pulled open his uniform... to reveal a tightly-wrapped set of breasts. "Just... give me orders and let's be done with it. The fucking crew's gonna have a field day, so it might as well be worth it."

"Shit... Fuck, I'm sorry." Ari stopped trying to seal the top and bottom of her suit, instead dropping everything to brace Rhyme's shoulders. "I didn't mean to... well, reveal anything. But just so we're clear, you're...?"

"A woman."

"And you'd rather been known as a male raccoon than a female one?"

"Not... really. It sort of just happened, but I've grown into it." Rhyme dropped her pants and revealed she was wearing a rolled-up undersuit beneath. "I'm also not a raccoon. I'm half tanuki, but it doesn't help my mom's half is fox I guess. More point to my snout and all."

"And again, I'm sorry for that. I'm just worried about my ship and I wasn't reading you well enough or something." Ari sighed as she returned to fitting her suit, locking the lower half of her design with an airtight ring. "I won't tell anyone. I've spent enough of my own life with secrets like those, so I understand where you're coming from. Besides, someone else on board sort of has the same issue. She might like to meet, actually."

"You're..." Rhyme fought with her chest a bit, but eventually wedged herself into her whole suit. "Thank you. I'll owe you one, Ari."

"Just be your normal self, and if I do get the okay for that other woman maybe don't turn down the offer. That's all I ask." Ari finally figured out how the seals of her suit locked and got to work latching them. "To be honest, I'm surprised you can get away with the disguise with even a modest chest like that. Curves aren't easy to hide."

"Oh, these? I hate going into heat. They always grow so much and get in the way."


"Yeah, you know." The tanuki stepped into her outer shroud and quickly pulled it up to her shoulders. "I'm not sure about yours--or other girls' really--but mine get large enough it hurts to hide them when I'm in heat."

"Uh... Mine don't grow like that." Ilaria finished with her seals and reached for a helmet, fitting it but waiting to seal it in place. "Actually aside from Carbon I don't know anyone that has variable-sized tits."

"You're just joking, right?" Rhyme finished zipping up her older suit, but froze up when there was no reassurance. "Gods, don't tell me I'm fucked up in the head too."

"No... But it's worth a chat at least, and I'm a good listener." Ari checked her suit for visible issues, finding only a few scratches to concern her. "Finish up so we can get the ship fixed. We'll have all morning to chat if you'd like."

"It's appreciated, Ari." Rhyme grabbed her rugged, bar-framed helmet and unhooked an air line from it. "Here, let me test your seals. Let me know if you see smoke somewhere I don't."

"Oh, it's laced with something?"

"There's a reactant in the oxygen line, to make sure you're not getting pure oxygen in the mixer. It'll be faint green until it contacts with nitrogen." The tanuki fox clicked her oxygen into Ari's suit and flushed a few quick bursts to fill her suit. "Anything yet?"

"Um... Oh, crap. By my leg." Ari picked up her right leg and pointed at the seal near the boot cuff as it oozed a waft of green gas. "We don't have any patches or anything, do we?"

"Not a clue. Do we?" Rhyme checked a storage pocket on the side of Ari's suit and came up empty. "Mine's self-sealing so I don't carry any. You can't go out like this, Ari."

"Well I could if I liked being dead, I guess." The otter looked around, then chuckled to herself when she remembered a silly fact. "Wait, that leg isn't real." She told her nanites to flood the area just past her knee and they created a hard plug around her false limb. "There. If I don't have to worry about my leg, that should hold right?"

The tanuki checked the seal, both visually and with a paw. "It looks like it was ~designed~ that way. Whatever that stuff is, it's impressive."

"Yeah, but our suit collection isn't. We probably should have replaced them before attempting to clear vacuum the first time." Ari moved her leg around to odd angles until she was satisfied with the strength of the seal. "Guess that means we'll rely on you a little more until we dock. Speaking of, we've got a problem to fix."

"Here..." Rhyme sealed Ari's helmet before securing her own, then opened Ari's air valves. "Your air looks low, but that's still about an hour's worth." She clipped a tether between both of their waists, then reached for the airlock controls. "If you can hear this, I'm ready when you are."

Ari groaned at the baby leash, but nodded and found her manual radio switch. "We're good. Hit it."

Rhyme tapped a series of inputs--probably a security code to avoid accidents--and the air squealed and hissed out the room. "If your ears start to hurt--"

"--blow pressure into them. I'm an otter, hon; I equalize all the time in the water." Ari walked to the outer door, discovering a small area where the artificial gravity rapidly ceased. "Oh, good. I was worried we'd have to fight the gravity the whole way out."

"What?" Rhyme stepped over to the hatch as well and sighed in relief. "Oh gods, thank you."

"Trained in nothing but zero-G, eh?"

"Yeah, but that's not it. I look forward to my personal flying time." Rhyme hit the hard door switch once she had a green light from the air cycle, then gently pushed herself outside so she could hover with only one paw on the ship. "The floatiness is my favorite part of the job. It's relaxing."

"Some would say 'terrifying' or 'disorienting', but thankfully we agree here." Ari looked around, then pointed to the wing-shaped engine pod midway down the Starbreeze. "That's where our problem lies. So, how do we do this?"

"Gently. Everything's about being soft and calm out here. Heads up." Rhyme tugged gingerly on the tether and eased Ilaria out of her own ship. "Communicate even the smallest details. Oh, and I've got magnetic gloves and thrusters so tell me before you make any movements of your own."

"You're the expert. Lead the way."

The bound pair floated for a bit as Rhyme devised an ideal path to their target. Then the tanuki pulled herself into motion and kicked off a door handle with a slow but strong push. The two glided for a short distance before Rhyme grabbed a heat buffer panel with her snappy gloves. She caught Ilaria and brought her to a stop, then lined up the final, lengthy push. The maneuver started off well, but the jerk caused by Ari's inertia sent Rhyme off towards the Earth. She recovered like it was nothing however, grabbing a six-dimensional joystick on her clavicle to fire her retro-control thrusters.

Ilaria saw herself continuing towards the planet even though Rhyme's path had changed and voiced her concern. "Don't let me burn up in atmo..."

Rhyme snagged a plate of the Starbreeze's retracted dorsal cover and then gently pulled Ari towards her. "I've got you. Here, grab this and help me find the--"

"Damage, right there." Ari groaned as she stared at the problem, a large piece of Terran aerospace junk lodged in the massive servo rotors of the main thruster wing. "I don't know how the fuck that got there, but I'd call that a blockage alright."

"Well ~there's~ your problem." Rhyme smirked and pulled herself closer to the issue. "It just looks like it's snagged by a corner. We should be able to pull that out by paw."

"And what if the wing's damaged?"

"We'll just fix it. I'm not called an engineer for fun, after all." Rhyme landed on the obstruction and her whole body weight was nearly enough to set it free. "See? That thing barely touched the motors. Our ship's got some fast-acting safety protocols for her size."

"Well we also have a living being ~handling~ those protocols now, so I'll have to thank her for it later." Ari followed suit, softly touching down on the wing next to Rhyme. "This zero-G stuff is a blast. I sort of wish we didn't have to fix anything now."

"I'd love a little walk with you too, but we have work to do and you don't have much air. Here, pull that corner for me." Rhyme pointed to an exposed notch in the wreckage, then once Ari did as asked she cut a few wires off of the obstruction. "Easy. It was just caught by some frayed wiring. Let's kick this away and call it a day."

"And have it screw someone else over? Nope, we're bringing it inside." Ari looked around and found the central elevator shaft. "The top and bottom of that lift have airlocks for cargo loading."

"Well good news here is that we can move this heavy thing out here. It still has mass though." The tanuki pulled out a small thruster device and aligned it with the rough center of mass of the space junk. "This'll help us get it going. Just remember that we need to flip it around to slow down, too."

"Sounds easy enough."

"Here goes." Rhyme tapped a switch on the device and monopropellant began spewing out the thruster nozzle, slowly launching the former obstruction towards the airlock. "I can control this a little with my suit thrusters, but just in case try to stay ahead of me and closer to the ship."

"I..." Ari saw the slack giving out in her tether and quickly sought a route. "Got it."

Rhyme rode the junk a few dozen meters before switching off the thruster, Ari kicking and pushing off panels of the Starbreeze barely fast enough to keep up. "I'll try to turn it now. Mind the cord."

Ari took one good leap of faith that angled her just atop the airlock bay doors. "You're clear."

"Alright. Initializing rotation." Rhyme held her controls with one paw and the debris with the other, her rather slight propulsion accumulating over time to spin the junk around. "And slowing..."

Ari landed first, the otter quickly reaching for the controls. "I'll hold the door for you."

"Uh... Wow, that cut it close." Rhyme barely managed to bring the rotation to a minimum before her RCS system ran out of juice. "S-Slowing..."

"You didn't fill up your gear, so that's sort of expected." Ari backed off a little as what she assumed was a hatch actually turned out to be an external lock chamber. "Uh, that's pretty cool."

"Actually the tank is leaky and I can't figure out where it needs fixed." Rhyme enabled her thruster device again, thankfully that system having far more than enough propellant for the task. "Is that some sort of umbilical system?"

"No..." Ari watched as the cylinder extruded from her ship, then rotated it's outer shell to reveal an open bay from the sides. "Actually, I think it's the elevator car. Nifty."

"Oh, I see. This turns into a loading platform, seals, and then pulls the cargo inside. I've never seen a system like that." Rhyme finally touched paws to the ship again and heaved to slow the debris to a stop. "Little help?"

"Oh, sorry." Ari grabbed the junk with her spare paw and helped guide it inside the lift. "Think we can fit in there too?"

"Yeah, but is it safe?"

Ari checked the control panel, fighting humidity that was now condensing on her visor. "It says... Oh yeah. Nine tons max."

"That wasn't really my point..." Rhyme drifted over to the opening and pulled herself inside. "Oh, yeah. There's emergency bolts on both sides. I just didn't want a jam to mean we'd get stuck and run out of air."

Ilaria followed suit, the tether connecting them aiding in her movement. "Okay. Let's see..."

Rhyme giggled when she noticed the fogginess of Ari's helmet. "I'll get it." She found the internal controls and slid a visual representation of the elevator along its track. "Next stop, cargo bay."

The outer shroud closed and sealed, then a hiss of air slowly grew louder and louder. "And ~of course~ it's slow. So... Why the disguise, if you don't mind the question?"

"As much as I'd like to live up to the tanuki lore, this isn't really a disguise." The car started moving slowly, bringing the two into the gravity-free shaft ship. "I grew up in an orphanage, and my foster parents wanted a boy. I happened to be mistaken for one, and it turns out I liked having parents more than not. A lot more than not."

"Ouch; sorry. I didn't mean to bring back bad memories." The airlock finished cycling, so Ilaria removed her helmet and 'sat' on the floor. "This thing works hard and crawling slow to get that max load rating, huh?"

"Believe it or not, I've seen worse." Rhyme crouched down next to Ari and twisted off her own helmet. "And you didn't really bring back anything I didn't deserve to remember. I lied to them, so it's no wonder my foster parents tried to take me back."

"Can they do that?"

"Yeah, but it's probably awkward after five years." The tanuki groaned and shifted her bindings around chest. "I didn't give them the chance though; you've never seen how bad orphanages are. I ran away and never looked back. Made finishing school a hassle though."

"That's rough." Ari stared at her paws, honestly unable to tell what else to do or say at the moment. "So, do you always... have to fight your tits like that?"

Rhyme rolled her eyes and gave up on adjusting through her clothes, instead sliding out of her outer shroud and then unzipping the top of her bodysuit. "No. Normally I'm flat as a board."

"That's a pretty big change then." The otter thought back to some of the other members of her crew when lightning struck. "Hey, why were you in an orphanage in the first place? I don't mean to be blunt, but I think there might be more to this."

"No, it's alright. It's not like I lost my parents or anything. I just... never had any." Rhyme opened her bodysuit some more and directly fixed her bandages, sighing in relief when she'd gotten the pressure relieved. "I woke up in a dirty orbital station and didn't remember anything else before that. Some rescue workers handed me over to an orphanage and that was that."

"What kind of station was it? What was around you when you woke up?"

"I dunno... I was pretty young back then." The tanuki pushed back and rested against the wall of the elevator car, not really caring that her chest was partially exposed given the present company. "It reminds me of some industrial stations I've repaired, though they weren't as complex."

"This might be silly as all hell, but I think that was a military lab. You're younger than Lilly, but you might have come from the same facility." Ari's nose started winking at a scent in the air, then a slow growth in her crotch confirmed her suspicions as to its nature. "I'll have to chat with her and Carbon about it. If I'm right though, your ability to morph your body might be like Carbon's after all."

"But I can't control it. Can she?"

"Carbon's got someone inside her that can control it--Evelyn." Ari tried to cross her legs to hide her chubby start of an erection, her suit now forming a bulge. "Speaking of, didn't you say you changed when you went into ~heat~? How the hell do you hide that from others?"

"Anti-estrus meds do a lot of the heavy lifting, but keeping myself confined to this airtight suit tends to do the rest. Helps I can just say that I'm keeping ready in case of emergencies." Rhyme's expression changed to one of slight embarrassment once she noticed what Ari was doing. "Oh. Shit, I'm sorry; this is a strong one.I don't know why, but sometimes my heats are really bad."

"You mean your breeding season? Yeah, those suck."


Ari quirked her head for a moment, then once again when Rhyme genuinely appeared confused. "No parents, right. Well since you don't know, most mammals have one or two prime breeding seasons each year where their heats are horrible. Just so you know, that's when it's almost guaranteed you'll have a kid from sex. I might have to make another exception to the Boner rule for those actually."


The elevator stopped moving but the doors refused to open, though Ari just decided to wait and see if they eventually would. "My bad that time. I probably shouldn't bring up sex while you're like that. I know it's tough for me to resist my own urges."

"No, I'm really good about it. I've learned to put it in the back of my mind and ignore it." Rhyme hunched down between her shoulders before admitting the next part. "I've actually never touched myself down there. I know it'll only spread the scent."

"Wow. You're the zen master of that shit then. Bravo." After a minute had passed, Ari checked the control console and sighed. "And now it looks like we're stuck. The controls say we're fine, but obviously..."

"And there's no access hatches inside, and the emergency bolts won't fire..." Rhyme slid up next to Ari and slumped against her side. "I'd say just chat until someone notices, but we're a light crew on a large ship."

"Yeah, there's that. I can talk with my brother and Adrian pretty much at will. Not sure why he's ignoring me right now though." The otter smiled as Rhyme helped her remove the top of her suit, then stiffened up all of a sudden at the sight of something out the lone window of the chamber. "Ah, it's my girls!"

"You have girls?" Rhyme checked out the window and found the twins staring inside. "Oh. I thought they were your brother's or something. I mean, you're single and all..."

"And Yoyo has another ~guy~, so that was a bit silly. It's pretty complicated though, so I can understand." Ari freed her arms from the suit, not giving a damn that she was now entirely topless. <Girls, can you get us out of here?>

The two peered inside, giddy that their bare mother was in a small room with a similarly-dressed stranger. <We're investigating the cause, mom.>

<Dee would know how to fix this, but I can't reach him. What's he up to?>

<Uncle Yoyo and Uncle Dee are having sex. They kicked us out when we bothered them.> Chelle went out of sight for a moment to check something, though her tendrils still tethered her to Mik. <We'd imagine they're not responding because they're tied together.>

<Well then they can't help for a while anyway.> Ari blew Mik a kiss and gave her a smile. <I'm glad you guys barely sleep now. See what you can do, and if need be we'll bug Dee in a bit.>

"What's up? Can they help us?"

Ari shrugged her shoulders and huffed out a sigh. "They're smart, but an engineer might still be needed. Either way, I'd assume we're stuck here for a while."

"Great..." Rhyme started hugging Ari's shoulder, even petting it slowly. "My turn for a rough question. So if you have children, why are you alone now? Wife didn't like that you wanted to be a girl?"

"No, Robyn... she died, quite honorably. And I'm not trying to be a woman, I've always been like this." Ari laid her head sideways to rest on Rhyme's, only for the tanuki to nuzzle back lightly. "My turn. You sure you've got a handle on your heat? You're getting mighty paws-on right now."

"Oh, I'm fine. I just... never get to be like this. I mean, I like being seen as a guy... but this can be nice too, in moderation." Rhyme stopped her nuzzling now that is was brought to her attention, but her paws acted on their own in pressing against Ari's lower abdomen. "So what's it like? Sometimes I've wished I had a dick just to make life easier, but you actually have one."

"Yeah, and when I was growing up I had the opposite mentality." Ari nudged those paws away, only for them to rub her sides. "You sure you're okay? Maybe we should change the subject. You look like you want to fuck."

"Well my body does, but I'm really alright. I'm just... curious." The raccoon dog tried to keep her paws to herself, but still nuzzled against Ari's shoulder. "I've never really seen one before. Besides, I feel bad that I got yours hard. Doesn't that hurt? The other guys always sound like they're in pain when they masturbate."

"They do that openly in the bunks? Just proves why my new rule is needed." Ari checked the window and saw her girls had moved out of sight to work on the elevator. "Well I'm fine with showing you my guy bits, but I don't want to end up screwing you. You should choose your first time with a clear head."

"I promise, I'm fine. And I'll just look."

"Alright. I suppose some sex ed could help." Ari sighed, then started shimmying out of her suit bottoms until her half-hard cock made itself known. "There he is. Any questions?"

"It's... That's way bigger than the other guys from the showers."

"Well it's getting hard thanks to those pheromones of yours."

Rhyme leaned in close enough that her breath tickled Ari's tip. "Wow. So ~this~ is an erection."

"Not exactly. I'm not quite there yet. Damn, this is gonna get awkward..." Ari placed a paw around her sheath and pumped her cock slowly, the warm breath helping her along as well. "I have to stimulate myself to get fully-erect. See?"

Rhyme gawked as that uncut cock slowly grew out of Ari's sheath, becoming many times larger by the time it was rock hard. "Holy crap. That's so huge you could suck yourself off."

"I guess I could. Never tried." The otter groaned as she got hard enough to stress the various piercings in her nethers. "I'd continue, but that's a surefire way to ruin your self-control."

"No, don't stop!" Rhyme went against her promise, though Ari really didn't have the willpower at the moment to stop the two paws that resumed pawing her off. "You said you'd show me, and I want to see all that happens..."

"...Fine, but on my terms." Ari moved her paw up near her tip, then angled her cock to her muzzle. "I ~am~ sort of curious about this now. But if it comes to it, don't whine and cry for me to fuck you. I mean it when I say I'm not doing that to you."

"And I'm serious when I say I can take care of myself." Rhyme slowly started pumping again. "Now take care of ~your~self. The guys always say something happens when they're done, and I want to see it."

"You really are a virgin." Ari gave her manhood a tentative lick, then a kiss. "Alright... First time for everything..."

Rhyme actually gasped when she saw Ari's lips wrap around her own cock. "Wow... That looked a lot smaller until you started."

Ari gagged on a squirt of pre in her mouth and paused her amateur autofellatio. "I know I'm pretty huge, but damn if I'm not stretching my own jaw. Makes me respect anyone that's ever gone down on me a little more."

"I was wondering if that was supposed to look so tough." Rhyme kept up her pawing, but slowed down a bit when she noticed a bump at the bottom of her strokes. "Something's getting bigger. What's that mean?"

"My knot's swelling up because I'm getting close. Your... heat's making me sensitive." Ari engulfed her tip once more, giving a few really good, slurping draws before letting off. "I'm just gonna go for it. Keep that up, and don't be afraid of the knot--it feels amazing."

Ari rolled her tongue around her tip, then sank her head over her cock as far as her she could manage. She expected her flexibility to be the limiting factor, but due to her size her limits really only came down to her gag reflex at this point. She slurped up her own pre and saliva, then tested just how far she could push that gag reflex. Rhyme only encouraged her further, not just with her intoxicating scent but with the way she squeezed down on Ari's exposed knot. The otter really wasn't lying about her sensitivity though, her hips instinctively rocking as she neared her peak.

"Are you gonna do it? There's got to be more I can do..." Rhyme pressed both of her paws behind that bulb of flesh and forced her thumbs upward while she thought about alternatives. Then about as far as Ari could stand, she slowed her knot massage in favor of sliding two fingers into Ari's tight pussy. "You feel good from here too, right?"

Ari rolled her eyes back in her head and nodded in response, the encouragement only driving her to suck that much harder and faster.

"Good. When you're gonna do that 'cum' thing, I want to see it." The tanuki shoved her digits deep inside the otter until she hit her palm, then made up for only having one paw on her knot by squeezing it tightly. "You can do it. I want to ~see~ it."

Ilaria's rocking hit a crescendo, then a moment later her cheeks flared outward from her first blast of glowing amber cum. She popped her head back and exposed her cock for Rhyme, but due to the angle she only ended up covering herself in a weightless fountain of her own sticky mess. "Haah... Gods..."

"Holy shit!" A bit scared she did something wrong, Rhyme let go of the otter and backed herself away a few feet. "Is that ~supposed~ to happen!?"

"That's... Gods, that's a good one..." Ari tried to keep the hefty streams of molten baby batter from firing directly in her face by covering her tip, but that only made the mess reflect and hit Rhyme as well. "Sorry..."

"What... What is this stuff?"

"My cum--well, semen actually." Ari rolled the sticky mess in her muzzle around, then swallowed it. "And I guess they're right. I do taste like eggnog."

"So that's cum. It smells like... liquid ~you~." Ari's flow seemed to taper to a stop, so Rhyme chose to quickly suck the very tip of Ari's cock just to gather some of the goop right from the tap. "It's warm and... yeah, bitter eggnog..."

Ari wanted to slam the girl's head down so very badly, but held back with all the control she could muster. "You... shouldn't do that. You'll only end up going further."

Rhyme sat upright and held up her paws in disarmament as she spit out the remaining cum in her mouth. "I'm fine. I think I've had more than enough for today. That stuff isn't my cup of tea."

Ari wiped her own muzzle relatively clean, then nodded to the completely sober canine. "No shit. I think we both had enough. Don't like it, huh?" She pawed herself gently to milk out the very last of her orgasm, then gave up on moving entirely. "I really needed that. Why the fuck don't I paw off more often?"

Rhyme covered herself when she heard and saw someone moving outside, then calmed down when the twins returned. "Maybe that's not the best thing to do in front of your kids."

"Nah, I make love to them too. Actually, it feels like the other way around most of the time." Ari took the odd look she got for that statement and returned it calmly. "They have a condition and I don't trust strangers with their sexual health. Let me see what's up." <Girls? What's the status?>

<Opening now!> The outer shroud began turning much to the occupants' joy, but when the mechanism ended its cycle Ari gained a scowl. <We're... sorry, mom.>

"Girls..." Ari stared at Chelle as she closed a power panel for the elevator, then took a towel Mik offered her. "At least there's something good behind all the bad you two do."

"What?" Rhyme put the pieces together herself, but only cowered further inside the lift when it hit her. "Wait, they did this on purpose!?"

"They're just causing mischief. And trying to hook their mother up, apparently." Ari wiped the slime from her face, then offered the towel to Rhyme before she soaked it with pungent cum. "Thank you for at least remedying your fun, pups. I can't really sneak back to my room like this, though."

Chelle floated over holding another towel and a folded green dress. <We planned ahead. Was... Did you you enjoy her? We thought she was a man, so...>

<She was cute. And yes, I had fun.> Ari took the extra towel and dried herself off to a manageable level. "You two need to learn how to get along with others. This wasn't necessary."

"It wasn't... I don't mind, though." Rhyme toweled off, then zipped herself and her scent back into her bodysuit. "I got to see something I've always wanted to, so thank you."

"Well now you reek of heat ~and~ sex. We need to clean you up before everyone wakes up." Ari took the dress and threw it on, quickly realizing it only barely covered her. "A sheer dress? Really, girls?"

<We want you to look sexy, mom. You're beautiful and you deserve to express that to everyone.>

<Thank you, my little whelps.> Ari pointed to the contents of the elevator and proposed something to the twins. <If you want to make up for tricking me, how about getting someone to pull that out of there and into the ship's gravity? It's trash that got stuck in the wings.>

<We'll move it. There's cargo equipment everywhere down here.> The girls moved in and gave their mother a hug. <We're sorry, mom. Go back to sleep and we'll take care of this.>

<You're turning into such good girls. I'm so very proud of you. Thank you.> Ari helped Rhyme out of the elevator with a paw, but refused to let go afterward. "You need to come back with me and use my private shower. It'll be hard to sneak one in the public showers with that scent attracting the other guys."

"Oh... Is it really that bad? I can't smell anything, except you maybe."

"Damn, you really ~are~ the sexy zen master. Yeah, it's maybe the strongest scent I've ever experienced. Then again, we're both canines to that may have something to do with it." Ari started moving for the forward elevators once she got her bearings, towing a helplessly-floating Rhyme behind her. "You're taking a shower--only non-girly scented shampoo by the way. Just to be sure you're going back to sleep in my bed, too. We're leaving no room for mistakes here."

"Wow. You really did mean it when you said you'd keep my secret." Rhyme started picking up the pace once they returned to the Starbreeze's gravity, proving she didn't need to be led by the paw any further but enjoying the grip nonetheless. "Alright. We can share a bed for one night."

"Oh, I was just going to sleep on the floor. Things are already tempting for both of us."

"Nonsense. It's your bed." Rhyme gripped down tighter with her own paw, as if forcing her point. "You're accommodating me, so let me do the same for you. Besides, I've got myself under control."

Ari looked down at the strong pawhold they shared, then started blushing a bit. "...if that's what ~you'd~ like, then sure. Anything for a new friend."


Ilaria shot her eyes open, her paw immediately heading to her racing heart only to land on the metallic device in her chest. "Fuck..." As she calmed herself down she rolled to her side...

"Gods... Are you alright?"

Ari stared at the very real, very warm fur next to her and simply smiled as she calmed down. "Just a bad dream. Go back to sleep, Rhyme."

The tanuki rolled over, pulling the ample blankets over her shoulder. "Pleasant dreams, Ari."

"Pleasant dreams, Rhyme." Ari rolled onto her back and stared at the ceiling, slowly drifting back to a much more contented sleep. "I love you, Pillow."

Rhyme mumbled something as she dozed off. "Love... pillows too..."

Ari smiled as her eyelids became too heavy to hold open. "Yeah, I think I'll be fine. ~We'll~ be just fine."

Roads Untraveled - Part XII

"I'm so sorry, Robyn..." "What was that? You say something?" Elliot cringed at the sight of the body being moved about his not-soClean room, yet kept an eye on Ilaria just to be sure things went smoothly. "Please tell me you're not talking to a dead...

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Roads Untraveled - Part XI

Ilaria waved a paw over her head towards a church bell tower. «You two alright up there? Looks like Carbon's raring to go.» «Yeah, we're good sis.» Ari could smell the capacitors heating up on her twin's railgun rifle via their wireless Link. «Charged...

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Roads Untraveled - Part X

"Gwah!" Ilaria shot awake and pointed her pistol around randomly, then noticed Trick beside her with her hand on the otter's shoulder. "Fuck... It was just a damn nightmare. How long was I out?" Alex groaned as she handed over a microphone. "We just...

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